The Rail Report: Rail Reliability Continues to Improve – More Rail Renewal Projects in the Pipeline

News Releases
24 May 2017

    The reliability of the MRT network improved significantly in the first quarter of 2017, with the Mean Kilometre Between Failure (MKBF), measuring delays of more than 5 minutes, for the overall MRT network more than doubling from 174,000 train-km in 2016 to 354,000 train-km in 1Q2017. This improvement follows the steady progress of our major infrastructure renewal projects, as well as the operators’ investments in improving maintenance procedures and incident recovery processes. We will continue to do more to raise reliability.

Figure 1: Mean Distance Travelled between Delays > 5 min (train-km) for Overall MRT Network

Higher MKBF for All Rail Lines

2.  The Downtown Line (DTL) and North East Line (NEL) achieved the highest MKBF across the network, at 1,033,000 train-km and 973,000 train-km respectively. The MKBF for the North-South Line (NSL) and the Circle Line (CCL) almost doubled – the NSL improved from 156,000 train-km in 2016 to 291,000 train-km in 1Q2017, while the CCL improved from 228,000 train-km in 2016 to 452,000 train-km in 1Q2017. The East-West Line (EWL) also improved by close to 50 per cent – from 145,000 train-km in 2016 to 215,000 train-km in 1Q2017. The number of service delays exceeding thirty minutes also improved. There was only one incident in 1Q2017 across the MRT network – on the EWL – as compared to an average of four per quarter last year.

 Figure 2: Mean Distance Travelled between Delays > 5 min (train-km) for MRT Lines

3.  The overall MKBF for the LRT systems improved from 49,000 car-km in 2016 to 65,000 car-km for the first quarter of 2017 with both the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) and Sengkang-Punggol LRT (SPLRT) registering improvements in their MKBF. Longer service delays exceeding thirty minutes on the LRT network for the first quarter also fell to four, compared to an average of 4.5 per quarter last year.

Figure 3: Mean Distance Travelled between Delays > 5 min (car-km) for Overall LRT Network


Figure 4: Mean Distance Travelled between Delays > 5 min (car-km) for LRT Lines

Steady Progress of Renewal Projects

4.  A major contributor to the MKBF improvement is the progress made in renewing our network, especially on the oldest North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL). We completed the replacement of the sleepers in December last year, and will complete the upgrading of the signalling system for the NSL and the EWL by this year and next year respectively. We are also on track to completing the replacement of the third rail on the NSEWL, which supplies power to the trains by June 2017.

Transition to the New Signalling System

5.  LTA and SMRT have been closely monitoring and increasing the number of trains trial-running on the new signalling system on the NSL. The trials started on 28 March with the switching over to the new signalling system during the last hour of passenger service. This involved 30 trains. Starting 16 Apr 2017, we extended trials to full-Sunday service, involving 55 trains. SMRT will extend the trial to running on the new signalling system on weekdays using the full NSL fleet of 124 trains from the week starting 29 May 2017 to test the new system more robustly.

6.  These trials have been useful in helping LTA and SMRT identify and resolve some teething problems faced with the new signalling system. The experience of overseas operators who have upgraded their signalling systems indicate that the new system can take four to six months to stabilise. As we work towards stabilising the new signalling system, commuters may still face delays due to emerging issues. We will do our best to minimise inconvenience to commuters.

7.  When the signalling system is fully upgraded, commuters can expect wait times as short as 100 seconds, down from the current 120 seconds, which can improve peak hour-hour capacity by up to 20 per cent.

New Third Rail System Close to Completion

8.  Works to replace the third rail system on the NSEWL, which started in mid-2015, are nearing completion. More than 95 per cent of the works have been completed, with the remaining works to be completed over the next month. The new system will enhance the reliability of the power supply to trains.

Upgrade of Power Supply for NSEWL

9.  LTA has also called two tenders for the renewal of the power supply system serving the NSEWL. The new power supply system will come with condition-monitoring tools that improves reliability and allows for better fault detection and fault identification. For instance, the system will be upgraded with a Voltage Limiting Device-Fault Identification System and a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system with condition-monitoring and diagnostic features. We expect to award the tender by the end of this year or early next year. This is a major undertaking, and would take around five years to complete.

New Trains for the Rail Network

10. We have also called a tender to replace the 66 first-generation NSEWL trains. These trains will have sensors to monitor the performance of various train subsystems and track conditions. Imaging sensors and laser scanners will be installed below the carriages to monitor track conditions for early signs of anomalies so that they can be addressed before a fault occurs.

Tapping on Technology

11. In addition to asset renewals, LTA will continue to tap on technology and work with the operators to move into predictive maintenance. We will be calling tender for the Rail Enterprise Asset Management System (REAMS), which will integrate and monitor asset information across all rail lines in a single system. The system will also allow us to perform trend analysis and fault prediction, so that faults can be detected early and addressed before disruptions occur.


12. The Government has made significant investments in our rail systems and will continue to do so. We expect to spend more than $4 billion renewing, upgrading and expanding existing rail assets in the next five years. This is in addition to the about $20 billion that we will be spending to build new public transport infrastructure.

13. LTA will continue to work closely with the operators to keep up the momentum of rail reliability improvements.